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Safety tips for hikers following several search and rescue missions

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 9:13 PM EDT
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WOLFE CO., Ky. (WKYT) - What looked like a small cliff ledge, seeming to be easily passable, quickly turned into a potentially deadly situation for one hiker.

“It was about a 4-foot ledge so it wasn’t anything too high, but when she landed on it, she suffered a fairly severe leg injury,” said the Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team Chief John May.

Hurt and stuck on a ledge, the Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team had to use rope systems to get down to the Red River Gorge hiker. They then put her in a harness and raised her back to the top of the cliff. Chief John May said she’s lucky she wasn’t hurt more.

“On average we do anywhere from 50-60 rescues a year. Typically one fatality.”

The team’s already done close to 20 rescues this year, some contributed to the flooding. Even carrying out four rescue missions in a single weekend.

“We have been cooped up really for the past year to a certain degree. Once Spring rolls around and temperatures start to rise, people are anxious to get outside. We have a lot of new people coming to the Gorge and unfortunately they don’t spend a lot of time preparing before they come here,” said Chief May.

To keep from becoming a part of a rescue mission yourself, May recommends you stay within trail boundaries, don’t cross over railings and map out the trails you want to hike, before you start.

“We use a program called Gaia GPS. It’s a program that you can use and it works even if you don’t have cell service, as long as you have the maps downloaded to the device.”

May also suggests telling someone at home which trails you plan on hiking, and what time you plan on returning.

Just in case you’re stuck or lost somewhere without cell service.

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